U.S. Labor: Still Throwing Good Money after Bad

It’s amazing how little the leaders of the U.S. labor movement have learned after more than eighty years of wasting members’ money trying to get politicians elected. So far this election cycle, at least $6.3 million has been sent to “Clinton-aligned organizations” as well as nearly another million to two other groups. And that doesn’t count the staff time that should have been spent on organizing and building real worker class power – you know, what unions are supposed to do – instead of working for political parties. And now the AFL-CIO is apparently “conceiving of a new super PAC that could cost unions $1 million apiece for a seat at the table.” The funny thing is how effective the labor bureaucracy thinks this is – and how important it thinks it is to get noticed in the media. Funny, if it weren’t so damn sad and frustrating. Last I looked, union density is still on a long-term decline:

union membership and share of income going to the top 10 percent

There’s no reason to believe that the same old strategy of throwing money at politicians is going to change this. If we are to ever build an effective labor movement in this country, we need to toss the army of well-paid hustlers out on their asses and tell them to go work on the Democrats’ dime.

I don’t think unions should be giving money or diverting scarce resources to any politician, but hell at least they could be supporting Bernie Sanders, who actually has policy positions consistent with what most labor unions claim to want. To their credit, some decent unions are, though they are in the minority. Meanwhile, the rest are supporting Clinton, and doing some ethical gymnastics along the way. For instance, SEIU went as far as to lie to its members, distributing flyers that suggested that Clinton supports a $15 minimum wage, even though she doesn’t. But don’t worry. If Clinton gets elected, perhaps Mary Kay Henry and the other middle-class executives can get a well-paid seat at the table and catch Clinton between meetings with the executives she really cares about – those on Wall Street and in the boardrooms of corporations across the world.

UPDATE, April 7, 2016: Politico reports WSJ reporting that “A fight among labor unions over who would control a proposed $50 million super PAC has slowed the creation of a unified effort to boost the chances of labor-friendly Democrats winning the White House and control of Congress in the November election. […] A senior political strategist for unions first laid out the plan in February before dozens of union presidents and other labor leaders at the winter meeting in San Diego of the executive council of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest union federation. But the efforts have been delayed since then, in part over disputes about who would receive credit for the work done, according to people familiar with the talks.” Good.

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